An institute at the University of St. Thomas that fosters ethical and socially responsible conduct by businesses and other organizations has changed its name.

The SAIP institute, established five years ago at the university’s Opus College of Business, is now the Veritas Institute. The institute will continue its goal of advancing the common good through positive social impact.

SAIP, the original name, stands for Self-Assessment and Improvement Process, a proprietary method modeled after the Baldrige Performance Excellence Program. The method extends the Baldrige approach to issues of business ethics, governance and social responsibility.

“As our organization has evolved over the past five years, our partners and clients have suggested that we need a name that provides a better window on what we offer and value,” said T. Dean Maines, the institute’s president.

“The concept of veritas or truth, which underscores the rigorous, evidence-based nature of our assessment tools, clearly resonates with our stakeholders. Similar to the Baldrige assessment process in the realm of total quality, tools based on the SAIP method provide data-driven insight into how well organizations have embedded ethical principles and values within the systems that shape their decisions and actions.

“The name Veritas provides an aspirational framework for our work,” Maines said.

“No tool or process, including the SAIP, can by itself orient corporate conscience,” said Dr. Kenneth Goodpaster, who holds the university’s Koch Chair in Business Ethics. “But it seems reasonable to suggest that honest, forthright application of the tools could help to uncover behavior and tendencies like those that undermined Enron, Andersen and other companies. It would seem to me that Veritas illuminates the gap between a company’s current state and its stated destination.”

The Veritas Institute offers two tools that employ the SAIP method:

  • The first, the Business Ethics Assessment Method (BEAM), is a corporate-responsibility assessment that incorporates standards drawn from ISO 26000.
  • The second, the Catholic Identity Matrix (CIM), helps a Catholic health system or hospital assess and enhance the degree to which it has integrated six principles drawn from the Catholic moral tradition within its management system. 

The enhanced Catholic Identity Matrix is the product of a collaboration between Ascension Health and the Veritas Institute, with support from the John A. Ryan Institute for Catholic Social Thought at St. Thomas. The CIM has been recognized as a best practice in Catholic health care. Currently, six health care systems employ the process. In addition, the institute is working with Catholic health care organizations to expand internationally.

Ascension Health executive William Brinkman commented on the partnership that has been developed between Ascension Health and the Veritas Institute since 2007: “The Veritas Institute has been a trusted partner and more; they have co-created with us Ascension Health’s system for mission assessment. The proven methods and experienced personnel of Veritas have provided process integrity and organizational insight to our assessments. They gave us the capability to move from anecdotal assumptions to quantitative measurements of how well we are living our values.”

The institute was formed at the Opus College of Business in May 2007 with a lead gift from Harry R. Halloran Jr., an energy industry entrepreneur and philanthropist who believes that business is one of the most powerful drivers for positive social change.